Apr 02, 2014

    HK tycoon may become king of solar


    A HONG Kong real-estate tycoon has spent the past year accumulating stakes in failing solar companies, piecing together what may become the biggest collection of photovoltaic factories in the world.

    Mr Zheng Jianming, also known in Cantonese as Cheng Kin Ming, has spent or pledged about US$533 million (S$672 million) to buy assets that at their peak were worth almost US$20 billion, according to regulatory filings in the United States and Hong Kong, where he has a home and office.

    The transactions, if completed, would transform Mr Zheng, a newcomer to the solar industry, into one of its most powerful leaders.

    Another solar investment by Mr Zheng in 2012, a 30 per cent stake in Shunfeng Photovoltaic International, has surged more than 2,900 per cent and is now worth more than US$745 million.

    "He's a bit mysterious and not really well-documented in the industry," said Mr Andrew Klump, managing director at the Shanghai-based consulting company Clean Energy Associates.

    "If he wanted to be more high-profile he would be. He's probably going to continue to stay under the radar."

    Apple Daily said in December that he's 48 years old.

    Mr Zheng's deals would help China consolidate factories responsible for more than half the world's solar panels.

    Through various holding companies, Mr Zheng owns 21.6 per cent of LDK Solar, the second-biggest supplier of PV wafers in 2012.

    He also owns 30 per cent of the Hong Kong-based panel maker Shunfeng, which is seeking to buy Wuxi Suntech.

    "You could have one person become the king of solar," said Mr Klump.